I have kept a prayer journal since I was 12 years old. Prayer is no secret formula, it’s nothing more than just talking to God. So mostly my prayer journals are simple chats with Jesus. It’s fantastic to look back over all those years of writings and see how my prayers have changed focus. Journaling my prayers is one of the most tangible ways I have witnessed God’s hand in my life and the lives of others I’ve prayed for, both in the prayers He has said “yes” to and the prayers in His sovereignty he has said “no” to. The “no” answers are even more amazing than some of the “yes” ones when I see what God saved me from by not giving me what I asked for. I personally need to constantly remind myself of what God has done in my past in order to keep me moving toward what God is going to do in my future so journaling helps with that a lot. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to refocus my prayer life with more intentional prayer. This year I’m using the old “SOAP” method of insight into scripture during my prayer time. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. Our church gave us these handy journals with a full year’s daily Bible reading schedule in the front. I’ve been going through it methodically and I’m finding that it is helping my prayer times be more focused and I’m listening a lot more than I’m talking.
Here’s how to keep a prayer journal using the SOAP method.
Step 1: Get a journal (any notebook will do) and a Bible in a translation that is easy for you to understand. I use the NASB (New American Standard Bible) but I grew up reading The New King James and the Living Bible translations. The Living Bible is more of a paraphrase translation and the New King James is much more of a literal translation. NASB is a happy medium.
Step 2: Set aside a time of day when you can have 15-30 minutes of quiet. I choose to do my journaling when I first wake up but others find the end of the day or lunch time works best for them.
Step 4: As you sit down in your quiet time, prepare your mind by closing your eyes to the outside world for a moment and taking a few deep breaths. Then simply thank God for the time he’s allowed you to spend with Him in prayer and ask Him to bless the time you’ve set aside to seek Him
Step 5: Consult said reading plan above and open to the designated chapters in your Bible and read them. If you have trouble finding them, every Bible has a table of contents in the front and you can find the books that way. As you’re reading, keep your mind open to any words or phrases that might stand out to you and underline them in your Bible. (DON’T WORRY- IT IS OK TO WRITE IN YOUR BIBLE)
Step 6: Look over the scriptures you underlined and see if you can designate a theme for what they are saying, such as “Faith” or “Obedience” or “Healing”. Write the Theme at the top of the page of that morning.
Step 7: Write the Scriptures that spoke to you down in your journal.
Step 8: Write your Observations about the scriptures you wrote down.
Step 9: Write down the Application you think that scripture has for your own life.
Step 10: Write your Prayer down in your journal for that day.